Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It's the Political Season - Vote for Me!:
"A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Driveway!"

Ignoring the chickens (I don't have any - just 4 cows and 3 goats on the layout), I kept thinking that now that I've added a bigger city I need more vehicles. I am emptying my supply drawers and out of curiosity I counted. I have about 145 vehicles on the layout and 175 people. That should be enough for one for every driveway so Vote For Me!






The real laugh is that I probably have another hundred little folks in storage drawers (is that like the city political machines getting votes from dead names in the cemetery?) Most of my constituents are of Chinese heritage and share the same poses.  (But I am getting tired of the Dutch guys holding their hats on!)


I think we may have found the newest Michael Jordan (lower right hand corner, hanging on the rim):

The zinger is that most of my industries have no people on site! That will probably forces me to buy the more expensive Woodland Scenics figures (native Americans?) in the future (more potential votes?)

I tried to "weather" most of the lighter buildings on the layout. Since I am at least partially color-blind, my weathering consists of charcoal dustings. I think I overdid the Campbell Soup building (on right, now a dirty food place?) but Vote For Me anyway!




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Coming to the End (of Stage I Construction)

I have completed all the building that can fit into my loft area and the first pass scenery. Stage I consisted of 3 phases: 1) Brooklawn/Westville/North Woodbury; 2) Woodbury; 3) Camden and Philly. Each leg ran about 17'.

I just filled in half the access hatch of the 3rd phase to build a bigger Camden city and reluctantly violated the aisle area at Westville to build the Texaco refinery (a needed industry). There is no place else to go. Now it is a matter of enhancing/finishing  scenes and making it as much fun as possible for our operating sessions.




Generic scenery was added at the unfinished staging area end (needed a place to put the barn from my deceased friend's layout) so everything has had first pass scenery completed. The end is near! Sooner or later I have to run out of things to ramble on about.

I did submit an article (actually 2) proposal to a hobby magazine last week and am waiting to hear from them. It would cover the prototype Pennsylvania - Reading Seashore Lines and then those of us who model it.

I also put together a Google photo album of my layout in its current state. The photo album is in town order which unfortunately means the first photos are the least finished scenery wise.


Press on the first picture to get the full size photos. I hope you enjoy the journey!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Downtown Camden

Roads in, trees in, parking meters in, I quit. 











I keep forgetting this is N scale and I'm well into my 60s. The first parking meter disappeared into space (I believe it achieved low earth orbit). I have no drills small enough to make a hole to plant them so gluing them in upright was a challenge, but heck they give you 14 for $5.95 so all is good. At least the camera can still see them.



 I also filled in the empty gap leading to staging with generic scenery.




Saturday, August 1, 2015

The PRSL Camden Coaling Tower

The PRSL Pavonia Yard in Camden had a massive concrete coaling tower during its steam days.
I could only locate two published photos of it.
[Update: Just learned that there were no engine servicing faclities at the Pavonia Yard. 
They were located at the Camden Terminal Engine House (CTE) just south of the Broadway Station in Camden.]

Pavonia Coaling Tower - PRSL in Color by John Stroup p67
Pavonia Coaling Tower - Jim Foster PRSLHS
I found an old Walthers Coaling Tower kit that will probably be as close as I can come to it.
The kit is a nightmare with poor, limited instructions and even some assembly pictures being wrong.
Add to it my limited modeling skills and I barely got thought its construction.

Now I need to add a track off the turntable to feed it.

At least the PRSL, PRR, and Reading steamers will have something somewhat realistic to feed them. The Minitrix PRR K4s and Reading I10 consol are poor runners but at least they look pretty.




Thursday, July 16, 2015

Post Crusade - Project Updates

Now that I have completed my rant series on freight traffic actually having real meaning, I'll return to documenting some completed projects.

My Old ConCor RDCs have returned to their home rails after being decaled for their home road by friend Bob (Ntrainz1).

The local commuters are thrilled!
M409 & M413 glide into Woodbury

Woodbury station area

Commuters returning home through Westville

Edith Avenue in North Woodbury

I got tired of taking pictures of the north end of the rail yard that had a mauve (?, I am somewhat color blind) wall background. My wife wouldn't let me paint the 4th loft wall sky blue because it would clash with the downstairs colors, so I added a "sky blue backdrop". I got one of those school presentation boards from AC Moore, cut it in half vertically, and painted it my sky color. Naturally painting only one side warps the board so it spent some days under weights. I added a 1"x3" lip under the edge of the 3/4" plywood base and then used a 1"x4" board to sandwich the presentation board to the end of the layout. Naturally it was the layout end over the steps so I had to use one of those very heavy ladders that contort to 26 different position. Not elegant but functional and a reasonable cost solution.



Friday, July 10, 2015

Woodbury and Beyond

Although my Camden yard folks will argue with me, I think Woodbury is the heart of the layout. Although not much industry is there, everything came together here. It was the junction of 3 branches that spread across South Jersey. The main line was directed towards Millville and Vineland to the east. The Penns Grove / Deepwater branch followed the Delaware River to the south. This branch grew into the largest traffic generator as it serviced refineries and chemical plants along the Delaware River.  A third branch in the middle went into the rich farmlands in Elmer and Salem. New Jersey had a well-earned reputation as the "Garden State" and it fed vegetables and produce far beyond the Campbell Soup plant in Camden.

A wye connected the Salem and Penns Grove branches with a small yard in the middle. Salem trains used to terminate at Woodbury and drop their cars in the yard to be picked up by trains returning to Camden from the other 2 branches. At one time there was some sort of icing facility in the Woodbury yard but I have yet to uncover any pictures of it. The farms all needed iced reefers (in 1950s mechanical reefers were just beginning to show up) so it gives a big excuse to add operational interest.

Before you arrive in Woodbury, North Woodbury has 2 sidings. One for the Hollaway Lumber Co and another for a pipe company. The pipe company was later replaced with Cornell Steel, a steel fabricating business. I still haven't decided which will be the permanent resident of that siding.
North Woodbury; Cornell Steel and Hollaway Lumber
Woodbury had a bottling plant, a cement mixing spur and a furniture factory spur. I only modeled the bottling plant. The station itself had multiple team tracks to service the Acme food stores and a potato packing plant. Beyond Woodbury (and beyond the actual layout) were all sorts of farms and industries (DuPont, Sunoco, Oil, Shell Chemical) to generate a myriad of service requests.
Woodbury looking west
South Woodbury looking east; Bottling plant on left; yard between Millville and Penns Grove / Salem branches
There was not enough room to incorporate the wye but the small yard will see a lot of action since all the reefers headed for farm country will be stopping there for icing. Any local cars that need to be spotted on the northbound return trip can be dropped in the yard and picked up on the way back.


So I rest my case: the railroad, both real and modeled, exist to service customers and that should be its focus.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Consumers in Westville.

Continuing our customer freight focus we now turn our attention to the good people in Westville and again ask the question: what shipments are ready to be delivered, picked up, or forwarded?

Ah, the town of my youth (from birth to 3rd grade) and of my home churches for 40+ years. The town touted itself as the gateway to south jersey with good reason. Roads entering from Camden (the closest Delaware river access) would cross Big Timber Creek on a wooden trestle into Westville and then fan out in multiple directions leading to all the south Jersey towns and hamlets.
Timber Trestle Over Big Timber Creek
In the early 50s Westville had 6 private sidings and a team track that served 18 different shippers for feed, livestock, farm supplies, and lumber. Today only the spur to what used to be the oil refinery remains. We start with another of my convenient time warps. In 1906 the Pennsylvania RR built a power plant here to power the outside rail electric commuter service on the Millville branch. It had 5 tracks serving it coal and supplies. In 1924 the local power company made them an offer for cheaper electric that they coulndn't refuse so the plant shut down. Electric commuter service continued through WWII. The plant was finally torn down round the turn of the century. For my purposes the plant continued to serve into the 1950s and I have a single siding to service it with multiple coal cars 4 days a week and an occasional box car of supplies. They all leave empty. No coal, no commuter service! Get it!
PRSL (PRR) Power Plant in Westville
Another spur (the lead of which is the team track) services the Buzby Brothers cement company. Gondolas of sand and covered hoppers of cement flow in (and return empty). Its cement mixer trucks fan out from there, for this is the early 1950s and south Jersey is being webbed with many new interstates highways per President Eisenhower (just a tiny time warp). (All of which needed to provide multiple mile long straight sections in case it was necessary to land jet fighters in emergencies if the post WWII cold war continued to heat up with the Russians.) No sand and cement, no highways!
Buzby Bros.
Westville Team Track
We have already referred to the team track traffic, so let's go over to the Barry Bros. coal trestle. As a strong childhood memory I can still visualize a coal hopper on the trestle sporting a huge B&O logo. They supplied the bulk of the town with the coal needed, for then every home was heated with a monsterous octopus like coal furnace in their basement. Coal would be dumped through the trestle's open floor (held 2 hopper cars) into piles, A conveyor belt would scoop it up into dump trucks which then visited each home. They would spread their big metal slides out from the truck and shovel the coal which would travel down the slides into an open basement window and a cellar coal bin. Dads would stoke the furnace located on the dirt basement floors with coal in the morning and then in the evening before bed time to keep the house cozy in the winter. We would snuggle on the sofa on the winter evenings to watch those new-fangled tiny (in a huge console) black and white television sets. When the set would fail we would go next door to the local grocer and plug each TV vacuum tube into their testing machine to find out which one went bad this time and get the proper replacement to plug back in so Howdy Doody, the Mickey Mouse Club, Sally Starr, and Winky Dink could be brought back on air. No coal, the residents freeze!

Barry Bros. Coal Trestle
Next came the Texaco siding. Previously the spur had serviced land owned by Campbell Soup to grow tomatoes and produce for company factory in Camden. Then Texaco built a huge oil refinery there. Its spur currently goes off layout (but will soon have a small refinery intruding into the aisle (North Shore kit, fence, and a Blair animated Texaco sign.) This spur is serviced by the Bulson Street tank sweeper we referred to last blog. It will switch the Texaco refinery and go through Woodbury and down  the Penns Grove branch to service the off-line Sunoco refinery in Paulsboro. No tank cars, and your automobile doesn't run!
Texaco Refinery (under construction)
Finally in South Westville another spur got repurposed. Originally 2 sidings served lumber companies there. Decades later a Del Monte distribution plant took its place. And thanks to another convenient time warp, it receives reefers of frozen foods and an occasional box car of supplies (cardboard boxes. etc.). (A barber and news store was across the street and one of the town's fire companies was at the other corner.) No food, the people starve!
Del Monte Food Distributors. This building needs to be replaced with a white 2 story concrete building with a round roof.
Update: I've added some overall views of the Westville area to enable you to view the "big picture":
Overall view of Westville looking west  (Buzby Bros. in upper left corner)
Closer view looking west
South Westville looking north

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Delivering the Freight - A Transportation System

After three operations sessions we know we can run the passenger and freight schedules of the Pennsylvania - Reading Seashore Lines but I think we may have lost sight of the purpose of running those trains.. Sure the trains all ran but:
*   Do we know if the power company got enough coal to keep the generators running so that the people in the towns could keep the lights on?
*   Did the local Acme get enough cans to restock the store shelves after the weekend?
*   Did Campbell Soup get enough tomatoes to can soup?
*   Does Barry Brothers have a hopper car on its trestle so that the people of Westville can have enough coal slid into their basement windows to keep the furnaces fed and the houses heated?

By the shape of the waybills collections (and their locations) following an Op Session I doubt if we could answer those questions. So it is time to review the purpose of running the railroad, and why we run those trains.

To do that we will review the philosophy of why the railroad is there, its customers, and what they need.

1) The railroad exists to serve its customers (and make money doing so).
2) We will review how we imitate that and
3) Go town by town reviewing the industries and their needs.

We already answered question #1 so let's look at Q#2.

Since I model the towns I grew up in, I pretty much know the companies and industries that existed there. I did cheat somewhat and substitute some later actual industries for what were duplicate town industries in 1950s. (In the 50s it seems every town had multiple coal companies and lumber yards so I removed some duplicates with an industry that occupied that location a decade or two later.)

The Reading modelers site has a 1954 Reading RR freight database listing the main commodities delivered to each location. Here was a gold mine of the companies and shipments destined to the team tracks located in each town. So now we have all the industries and shipment types.

I began by making a spreadsheet of each company (within each town) and estimated the types of supplies they would get in and the products they would ship out, by car type. After estimating the number of cars the layout could handle I developed the following schedule:



Now to use this information we use Micro Mark 4 cycle waybills. Most of the time we use 2-3 cycles. The third cycle usually points to destinations far outside of NJ so the cars end up on the Philadelphia transfer runs and return when needed on a Camden transfer.

I have a big stack of pre-made waybills so that I can meet the industry car (and shipment) requests, multiples of each request type for variety.


They are the items that make the layout a transportation system. Now let's look more closely at the industries on (and off the layout). Let's begin with Camden.

Camden has 2 hidden tracks behind its industries that we have yet to fine a use for (read the yard crew and Camden local are already busy enough).

Camden Pavonia yard receives an early morning transfer from Philadelphia (staging) which brings in shipments destined for South Jersey and any additional empties needed to service car requests (after we have used all available empties already in the yard).

Later it receives an oil tank car sweeper form staging (representing the other PRSL Camden yard, Bulson street, originally Reading RR property). In addition it makes up locals and forwards a coal drag to the Atlantic City Electric power plant in Deepwater. Whenever it finds time it services the Camden Industries. RCA & Campbell Soup were big time clients of the PRSL in the early 1950s. Van Sciber was a big name furniture factory in Camden with a distinctive building and prominent name. In real life it only used a local team track but on my layout it earns its own spur.

From the spreadsheet you can see what comes and goes (and when) on each of the 3 industries.



Keep in mind that Campbell Soup receives a big portion of its input produce from the multitude of southern New Jersey farms in the area. Each of these received refrigerator cars that first had to be iced in Woodbury before going to the farms (mechanical reefers were just beginning to show up on the scene in the early 1950s). A complication that multiplies operations on the layout.

At this point we should clearly see that our focus should not be on running trains but on servicing our customers. 

I really struggle with realistic model railroads that have systems that merely move a car from one location to the next artificial destination on the card. They run trains for the sake of running trains. If that is what floats your boat - enjoy! It is your railroad and you have every right to do whatever pleases you. But you will have to excuse me now, I have customers that need servicing. 

(Next blog we will move onto Westville and Woodbury. Stay tuned.)

Update: I've added an overall view of Camden to help visualize the city layout (which is being modified as we speak :-)  ):
Overall view of Camden industrial area